Collective Impact Workshop - Just in Time

by 26. August 2015 13:06

Collective Impact Workshop - Just in Time

The Lord Dufferin Centre situated just steps from downtown Orangeville was the perfect venue for yesterday's Collective Impact workshop. About 25 people mainly from the Dufferin County region gathered to hear Sylvia Cheuy (pronounced 'choi') explain what Collective Impact is all about. Sylvia who has the interesting title of Director, Deepening Community Engagement for Tamarack ( made a strong case for using Collective Impact to help solve complex community issues like poverty. Tamarack's website is loaded with information and resources about CI so check it out. The Collective Impact Summit conference starts Sept. 28 in Vancouver and Conference details are available at Tamarack’s website

Keith Palmer, Dufferin County's Director of Community Services was on hand to share news about a new community initiative he is bringing before Council next month. "DC MOVES" plans to engage community stakeholders to share information and mobilize action on the important community issues facing Dufferin County. Sounds like a terrific opportunity to use Collective Impact to me.

Measuring the progress being made tackling complex community change isn't easy. The Rural Ontario Institute with financial support from the Provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has launched "Measuring Rural Community Vitality" to enable information sharing, capture of practitioner insights and lessons learned, and enable the peer exchange of best practices surrounding these hard to measure aspects of community change. Contact Mark Cassidy at for more information or visit our project webpage at


What Are Rural Youth Doing After School? Are They Getting Enough Exercise?

by Rural Ontario Institute 20. August 2015 10:55

This guest blog was provided by Jennifer Ronan of Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.

Physical activity is important for health and well-being.   The Eastern Ontario Physical Activity Network (EOPAN) recognizes physical inactivity in rural youth as an important public health issue.   Canadian children and youth spend a large proportion of the after-school time period (between 3-6 p.m.) in sedentary pursuits. During those hours, research suggests that children and youth are getting very little moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity and also that rural youth may experience additional barriers to accessing recreation (and physical activity) opportunities, such as lack of transportation or safety issues. 

With funding from a Heart and Stroke Foundation Spark Grant, five public health units in eastern Ontario surveyed youth in their rural areas to gain a better understanding of their physical activity experiences during the after-school time period.

Rural Youth After-School Experience Related to Physical Activity & Sedentary Behaviours, a discussion paper 2015, identifies patterns in physical activity and sedentary behaviours of grade 7 & 8 youth, living in rural Eastern Ontario. The objective of the paper is to help identify and guide future advocacy efforts related to rural youth physical activity during the after-school period, including the identification of opportunities and potential barriers.

One of the most poignant findings from the survey and the most important take away from this project may be the self-reported high levels of satisfaction rural youth have with their current sedentary after-school experiences.  For those working with youth, it is important to understand that there are multiple barriers to engage rural youth in after-school programs. Simply creating a program may not be enough to entice happy youth away from their current – albeit sedentary – pastimes.

For more information about this project, contact Jennifer Ronan, RN, PHN at Hastings Prince Edward Public Health at  The discussion paper (pdf.) is available below.

EOPAN_RuralYouth-Report 2015.pdf (4.26 mb)

Also a related upcoming event by the Rural Ontario East Active Recreation group (ROAR) is being held September 21.



Have Your Say on Inter-City Busing

by Rural Ontario Institute 12. August 2015 12:18

Many Ontario communities outside the GTA have been voicing concerns over the loss or decline of inter-city transportation.   The mandate letters for the Minister of Transportation and the Parliamentary Assistant  featured commitments on modernizing and appropriately regulating the intercity bus regime to ensure that it remains an attractive and affordable travel option for Ontarians.  Ministry of Transportation staff are currently working to develop recommendations and are seeking input from stakeholders.  

Ministry staff are undertaking two processes:

  • A public consultation through an Environmental Registry posting (see below), to hear directly from the public about their views and experiences travelling by intercity bus, and;
  • Data collection, to gather needed information about intercity bus use in Ontario, and to examine business models used in other jurisdictions and determine whether these models are applicable in Ontario.


This work will focus primarily on the needs of and convenience for the travelling public, with a view to creating a more seamless trip.  Identifying current service gaps is an important element of this.   

A posting to the Environmental Registry is open for submission of comments until September 25, 2015.  

Questions or concerns can be directed to Paul Steckham by phone at 416-585-7233 or by email at

The Parliamentary Asssitant to the Minister of Transportation is leading this process and submissions may be forwarded here:

MPP Kathryn McGarry

Parliamentary Assistant to Minister of Transportation

Ministry of Transportation

9th Floor, Ferguson Block

77 Wellesley Street West


Toronto, Ontario M7A 1Z8 


Six Lessons for Improving Rural-Urban Collaboration for Economic Development

by Rural Ontario Institute 11. August 2015 15:23

Six Lessons for Improving Economic Development Collaboration across the Urban-Rural Divide

This guest blog was provided by Danielle Collins a recent graduate of the University of Waterloo’s Local Economic Development Master’s Program and currently Labour Market Research Coordinator at the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie.

Ontario is becoming more urban, but rural communities face pressure to stimulate economic growth. Resources and political authority tend to be concentrated in cities, challenging rural areas to create innovative economic development strategies. Ontario policymakers are shifting their thoughts toward collaborative regional approaches, where rural communities could have greater access to expertise and resources. But this approach will require buy-in and support from both cities and rural Ontario. How can we bridge the urban-rural divide to ensure regional collaboration takes place – and is beneficial to all?

Six ways to improve urban-rural collaboration:

  1. Promote a regional mindset
  2. Increase awareness and education of rural challenges
  3. Identify leaders and champions
  4. Foster inclusivity and integration
  5. Formalize partnerships
  6. Consider co-location to improve coordination


Read The Higher ED Blog to see how Niagara Region and Windsor-Essex are improving urban-rural collaboration.


Recognizing Leaders in Rural Communities

by Rural Ontario Institute 23. July 2015 11:08

ROI would like to share Samara Canada’s Everyday Political Citizen project – an opportunity to nominate politically-engaged role models and leaders in your community for national recognition. We encourage you to share your compelling stories from across rural Ontario.

Conducted coast to coast to coast, the EPCitizen project aims to recognize the diversity of politics and democracy in Canada, crowd-sourcing hundreds of nominations for political citizens and celebrating some of the many thousands of ordinary people engaging engaging within and outside of mainstream politics, in big and small ways. Each year, adult and youth winners and finalists are chosen by a jury of prominent Canadians like Rick Mercer.

Nominate a leader in your community here

Samara’s “Everyday Political Citizen” is defined as an ordinary person who makes a difference in their political community in big or small ways. Some examples of Everyday Political Citizens include: an inspiring teacher, political volunteer, or community advocate.

About Samara:

Samara Canada, registered as a charity in 2009, is an organization dedicated to reconnecting citizens to politics. Samara Canada has quickly become a trusted, non-partisan champion of increased civic engagement and a more positive public life.

Rural Ontario Institute:

ROI is pleased to have Samara Canada’s support in an advisory capacity for our current Rural Community Vitality Initiative.  For more information on this project, contact Mark Cassidy, Project Manager

Stay tuned, as ROI will be collecting its own list of stories showcasing youth engagement across rural Ontario, in the coming months.


Moving Ontario Forward

by Rural Ontario Institute 20. July 2015 09:37

Rural Community Perspectives Needed on Future Infrastructure Spending 

The Ontario government is undertaking a consultation to determine how they will invest in roads, bridges, transit and other critical infrastructure outside the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Areas.   The consultation is essentially about how to stream the $15 billion the province has earmarked for infrastructure under the Moving Ontario Forward banner.   The $15 billion is close to half of the total $31 billion in provincial spending committed for  “community infrastructure” over the next 10 years.  The other $16 billion is being allocated for transit projects in the GTHA.  

You can learn about the consultation and provide your feedback here:

Why Should Rural Stakeholders Pay Attention to This?

The Ontario government has already said it will allocate dedicated funds outside the GTHA based on population.  This approach to distributing the funds fairly is a good principle and will help ensure that infrastructure projects for small towns and townships aren’t forgotten or swamped by  larger projects in cities such as London, Ottawa, Windsor and so on which may have substantial price tags.   We know that many small local municipalities are struggling to maintain the infrastructure they already have.

Apart from this principle, the province still needs to consider the pros and cons of alternative program design options.  For example, what are the benefits and drawbacks of a flexible, locally determined model where municipalities receive a transfer of funds and have discretion about which local priorities they use the finances for?  Alternatively, what are the benefits and drawbacks of a more targeted model, where funds are allocated to specific envelopes, ensuring they flow to selected priorities such as affordable housing, broadband, community transportation facilities or roads and bridges?

It is worth considering the implications of alternatives.   If targets are identified now through stakeholder consultations and become locked in, what would happen with projects that emerge down the road that may not quite fit the priorities set in 2015?  For example, this might include tourism/cultural infrastructure, recreation facilities, seniors homes, regional airport redevelopment, or harbour/intermodal facilities if those don’t make the cut now.  Perhaps incorporating some pre-set review points in the priorities over the ten years makes sense.   However, that might be unnecessary under a locally determined approach.

The structure the province sets up for the investment or transfer program(s) could have significant implications for the financing of certain regional initiatives that could benefit many communities, e.g. the SWIFT ultra-high-speed fibre optic regional broadband network.   That initiative has proposed contributions from federal, provincial and local sources – would this funding flow through as a local contribution or potentially take the form of a single provincial contribution?   Given this context, the province is inviting regional organizations such as the Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus and Western Ontario Wardens Caucus to provide their input.  Northern stakeholders too may have already identified some regional shared priorities for investment that warrant a collective submission to the consultation. 

The input of local municipalities, who may see priorities differently than their upper tier cousins, is just as vital to designing an effective program.  Likewise, civil society organizations and non-profit leaders, who themselves are working on community issues such as affordable housing, funding for health facilities, downtown revitalization or collaborative  rural  transportation systems, have many insights to offer  on community infrastructure priorities and we hope they pass on their perspectives to the province. 

Finally, the province’s response to the consultation process might also serve to answer some questions regarding what the scope of funding includes or excludes.  For example, we are also having a consultation about “community hubs”.   Is this also potential community infrastructure?     What forms of infrastructure are we talking about here?  We note that some provincial infrastructure investments such as 400 series provincial highway improvements and the natural gas expansion program are explicitly excluded from the $15 billion pot under discussion, while others such as forthcoming investment in provincial post-secondary facilities are not explicitly excluded.     

All together we think there are enough potential implications that rural stakeholders across the province ought to contribute their thinking on these matters to the provincial policy-makers.   

The province is in the midst of holding regional consultation sessions and you can register here:






Ontario Trillium Foundation Lunch Hour Twitter Chat July 16

by 13. July 2015 14:51

OTF’s registration is opening up on July 22.  Do you still have questions about the new granting process and investment strategy?

Join Arti Freeman @ONTrillium Twitter Chat. July 16 @ 12-1!

Tweet your questions in advance to #OTFChat so you can get relevant answers.

Here are the details:

Where? Twitter

When? Thursday, July 16, 12-1 p.m.

Hashtag: #OTFChat

New to tweet chat? Just follow the hashtag #OTFChat on July 16 at 12-1.





National palliative medicine survey looks at urban versus rural

by Rural Ontario Institute 3. June 2015 12:50

Since the “End-of-life care in rural communities” post on May 27, 2015, a new national survey on the topic has been published. Guest blogger Barry R. Ashpole of Guelph, Ontario, has provided the following commentary.

The Canadian Medical Association has now published the findings of a national survey of physicians in Canada - the first of its kind - who provide palliative care services.

The survey found that for 84% of respondents, palliative care was not their primary field of practice. Family physicians with a focused practice in palliative medicine and palliative medicine specialists – 16% of more than 1100 respondents – reported working an average of 36 hours per week in palliative care. Physicians who provide palliative care as part of their other clinical duties – 84% of respondents – reported working an average of seven hours providing palliative care services.

The survey also examined the differences between rural and urban areas for access to palliative care services. Just 35% of palliative medicine physicians in rural and remote areas reported having specialized palliative care teams to provide care in their area, compared to 79% of physicians in urban areas. Formal home health care for patients wishing to die at home was reported to be available by 49% of urban palliative medicine physicians versus 30% of rural physicians.

Canada must ensure minimum palliative medicine standards are met. Different strategies are needed for rural and urban settings to meet the needs of the population in a realistic yet appropriate way.

Additional information about the Canadian Medical Association survey can be found here:

End-of-life care in rural communities

by Rural Ontario Institute 27. May 2015 10:24

This commentary has been provided by Barry R. Ashpole of Guelph, Ontario. 

Two important human service issues have emerged in recent years and continue to generate a great deal of attention in both the political and public arenas: 

1) the pressure on the public purse for the future provision and delivery of health care and social services to the population-at-large; and,
2) meeting the needs of the elderly, who are living longer, in greater numbers than in past generations, and with a corresponding increase in the incidence of chronic or long-term illness or disability.

 Running parallel is the trend in many countries away from institutionalized care to accommodate the preference expressed by many people to receive care and support in their own home in the event of illness or incapacity. The potential economic benefits of that approach have not escaped policymakers, presenting them with a persuasive argument that suggests a significant shift in the focus and scope of community care in the decades ahead. Against this backdrop is the increasing attention on all fronts given to the quality of care and support for those living with a terminal illness, both patients and their families or loved ones. People living with a terminal illness in rural communities and remote regions, however, present a unique set of challenges; compared to urban centres, there are significant –  but not necessarily insurmountable – disparities in access to quality end-of-life care.

According to the 2011 Census, more than 6.3 million Canadians were living in rural or remote regions. At 18.9% of the population, this number has been relatively stable since 1991. A trend in recent years, however, has seen elderly city dwellers relocating to spend their retirement years in rural communities. Little is known about the perspectives of people living in these areas on what constitutes a “good death” and how this might be accomplished. A critical consideration, supported, literally, by volumes of research, is the wish of most people living with a terminal illness to be able to die at home. At the present time, the likelihood of receiving specialized home care services such as palliative care are markedly low in rural communities and remote regions.

In Ontario, as in all other provinces and territories in Canada, there are barriers to providing hospice and palliative care outside of urban centres, for example: 1) the lack of services; 2) health professionals unfamiliar with the philosophy and practice of palliative care; 3) limited access to resources; and, 4) continuity in the provision and delivery of care. And, more often than not, these barriers are even more pronounced among First Nation’s communities. Unfortunately, there is little strong evidence to inform policy and service development. Models of end-of-life care, however, do exist despite a general lack of health care professionals inexperienced or trained in end-of-life care and the resources to support them, their patients and patient families.

There is a clear need to initiate a province-wide dialogue, raise public awareness in the process, and address this issue at the local level. Many of the most successful hospice and palliative care programs in Canada have had their roots in community initiatives. Professional education and public awareness – and improved access to information and resources – are critical. Ultimately, the goal is to effect change at the policy making level of government, but there is much that communities can do now to address this public health issue.

About the blogger

My involvement in hospice and palliative care dates from 1985. As a communications consultant, I’ve been involved in or responsible for a broad range of initiatives at the community, regional, provincial and national level. My current focus is on advocacy and policy development in addressing issues specific to those living with a terminal illness – both patients and families. In recent years, I’ve applied my experience and knowledge to education for frontline care providers, developing and teaching on-line and in-class college courses on different aspects of end-of-life care.

Introducing the Rural Community Vitality Measurement Initiative

by Rural Ontario Institute 15. April 2015 11:21

We are pleased to share an exciting new project endeavour. Beginning in May 2015, we will be leading the Rural Community Vitality Measurement Initiative.

Funded by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, this announcement represents a 30-month applied research and analysis initiative focused on deepening understanding of effective practices for quantifying rural civic engagement, social capital and community well-being. The initiative will also demonstrate methods for municipal evaluation of community impacts and social return on investment.

The viability and economic success of small towns and rural communities is closely related to a number of intangible factors which are hard to measure but integral to municipal functions. The overarching goal of the initiative is to assist rural stakeholders by undertaking projects which enable information sharing, capture practitioner insights and lessons learned, and facilitate peer exchange of best practices surrounding these hard to measure aspects.

The initiative includes seven research and knowledge transfer projects grouped under three themes. The projects will commence in May 2015 and conclude by August 2017.

Theme: Rural Municipal Leadership – Succession Planning
-Rural Councillor Profile
-Youth Civic Engagement Showcase

Theme: Showcasing Effective Measurement Approaches
-Tracking Citizen Participation and Engagement: Best Practice Resource
-Rural Case Studies of Social Return on Investment and Community Impact

Theme: Rural Quality of life and Community Well-being
-Rural Well-Being Reporting: Demonstration Project 
-Small Area Data Guide as related to the Focus on Rural Ontario fact sheet series
-Rural Foresight Papers

As a first step, we are currently seeking a Project Manager. Please see the job posting and description for details.

We are looking forward to engaging stakeholder organizations and collaborating with key partners on each of the above projects. If you are interested in the above themes and projects and would like to learn more, please comment here or contact Norman Ragetlie, Director, Policy and Stakeholder Engagement.